Different Strokes for Different Folks
Every teacher knows that a lesson plan which can work with perfection with one group of students can leave a different group stone cold in its response. We are all different and learn in different ways so a variety of approaches to teaching is needed and finding inspiration is problematic but fostering a liking of letters and numbers is fundamental in producing a literate and numerate community.
It was reported this week that French Schools have the power to enforce a total ban on smart phones in schools. At the same time the Mayor of New York has allowed cell phones back into New York Schools. There are many articles available on the Internet which list the pros and cons of allowing mobile phones in schools. The use of mobile phones in Australian Schools has received much negative publicity and there is no doubt that cyber bullying has caused a great deal of distress to students sometimes with tragic consequences.
Other educators argue that there are many good outcomes using mobile phones in school. The secret is to teach students to use them properly in an educational context. Mobile phones are light weight but can give students the power to research, take notes and photos, send assignments to teachers and join discussion groups. Students who are reluctant to take part in classroom discussions are less inhibited when they are anonymous in a larger discussion group. Mobile phones are more accessible than computers for large numbers of our school population. There are thousands of educational apps many of them free or costing very little. Using games and fun educational apps on phones or tablets can make a big difference to socially disadvantaged groups.
There are many benefits to using mobiles and tablets for educational purposes but this does not mean you can ignore the negatives. How you police their use in schools is fundamental. This is a quandary that has faced educators before. In the early nineteenth century before national school systems were introduced, and the majority of the population in England was illiterate, the Evangelicals considered the education of the working classes. It was considered that it would be good to teach people to read but that their reading matter should be vetted. It would be good to teach them to read the bible but not political broadsheets which would make them aware of the inequality of the electoral system and maybe foster rebellion.
Once you have taught someone to read, they can read what they like. Once you have the internet you can browse wherever you like. It is a Pandora’s box but with overall planning in schools maybe the benefits of technology will win out.